When I wrote this for GoodHousekeeping.com two years ago, I didn’t think it would actually take me two years to get to Flûte, the Manhattan Champagne bar, but it did. Today, the original article. Tomorrow, the long-awaited visit to the alternate world where people with French accents tell you about the Champagne you’re sipping and the salmon you’re tasting.
When I get e-mails from Fabien, it feels like I’m hearing from an alternate world where the Champagne flows, knowledge of the French language is helpful and the people seem to be unaware that there’s a big recession going on. Oh, how I want to go there.
My brother, Scott, wants to go there, too. In fact, he’s the one who introduced me to Flûte, where Fabien is the Director of Operations. Described on its Facebook page as “the chic bar-lounge specializing in Champagne, with two locations in New York City and one in Paris,” Flûte sounds to me like the antidote to suburban parenting. And sometimes, I need that.
Scott told me about his one-and-only visit to Flûte in downtown Manhattan, where he took a class on Champagne vs. sparkling wine.
“They opened 10 bottles of bubbly and then educated us about them,” he recalled. I pictured a group of grown-ups in smudge-free, fine clothing, sitting in a room with mahogany walls and Parisian artwork, discussing the Champagne’s “bouquets” – as though somebody, somewhere hadn’t just lost their shin guards 20 minutes before game time.
But that was a long time ago – or at least before the economy collapsed – and, though New York is just 30 miles from here, it seems so far away when it comes to visiting Flûte.
Sometimes, Scott and I talk about going there like people in old movies discuss Hollywood: “Someday we’ll get there,” we sigh. But getting there requires orchestration that neither of us is willing to attempt to undergo these days. For one thing, we’d have to brave rush hour, as neither one of us works in the city. And I’d have to get someone to take my kids to and from choir/soccer/piano/baseball until my husband gets home at dinnertime.
“Doctor’s appointment?” the kindly, helpful neighbor would ask as my kids pile into her car and I gear up for my trip into the big city.
“Er, no. Intro to Sparkling Wines of Australia and New Zealand,” I’d mumble, eyes averted. “Thanks for carting my kids around town!”
Then there’s the cost – not just to get into the city and back – but the fees for the classes, if we take one, or simply the, what? Ten bucks a glass for the bubbly? In this economy, that seems hard to swallow, especially when we’re paying for choir/soccer/piano/baseball or whatever.
But then Fabien went and e-mailed me again, this time while I was taking a break from chaperoning the fourth grade class trip at the Liberty Science Center, just across the river from Manhattan. I read it on my cell phone:
“Don’t forget that today is Tuesday. That means Flûte’s 2 for 1 Champagne Happy Hour from 5-8 pm!”
I forgot for a moment that my fourth grade charges were taking turns standing in front of a giant blue plastic mouth, which “sneezed” on them every 20 seconds or so.
Fabien’s e-mail went on: “Everything (including our delicious hors d’oeuvres, Champagne by the glass, by the bottle and our amazing Sparkling Cocktail menu) is buy one, get one free.”
Immediately, I forwarded it to Scott. Seconds later, I received Fabien’s e-mail again, this time forwarded from my brother, who had written, “Hey! Tuesdays are 2 for 1 night!”
Oui, mon frère. Oui.
Maybe this summer, when the kids are visiting their grandparents for the night, and Scott and I have stashed away some cash for a real treat, we’ll go to Flûte. Until then, I’ll look forward to my e-mails from Fabien while I’m waiting for choir practice to let out.